DANVILLE, Ky. - After falling to the Berry Vikings twice in the regular season by a combined 11 points, the Sewanee men's basketball team avoided an epic comeback by the Vikings with a 70-63 victory Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2019 Southern Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament inside Alumni Gymnasium on the campus of Juhan Gymnasium.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP
Final Score: Sewanee (21-6) 70, Berry (19-7) 63
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HOW IT HAPPENED
-The Tigers were shooting lights out early in the contest, draining their first six 3-pointers of the contest to lead 22-9 at the under-12 media timeout in the first half.
-The Vikings, who finished the regular season as the 2-seed in the tournament, got back into the contest to trail by 11 points, 35-24, at the break.
-The Tigers, who shot 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from the floor and 7-of-13 from long distance, came out shooting to start the second half. The Tigers went on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the period before Berry was forced to burn a timeout.
-Sewanee was able to make it a 20-point affair with 10:30 left in regulation, but Berry chipped away, as they cut the deficit to single digits with 3:45 to go.
-After a trey by Elijah Hirsh with 51 seconds to go to make it a four-point game, 65-61, the Tigers sealed the contest with free throws, despite Berry having an opportunity to make a one-possession game with 21 seconds to go.
BACK TO THE 'SHIP!
-Sewanee will be making its second appearance in the SAA Tournament Championship Game in the seven years of the conference.
-Earning their first trip to the final since 2016, the Tigers will be seeking their first conference tournament title since 1997.
Hear from Sewanee head coach Mick Hedgepeth, as well as Luke Smith and Cam Caldwell on the semifinal win. Click here if you are having difficulty accessing the video on this page.
Video courtesy of Centre Athletics
SEWANEE KEY STATISTICS
-Luke Smith became the first Sewanee men's basketball player since 1995 to record a 40-point game since Eric Ochel's 55 in 1995. The Knoxville, Tenn. native finished with a career-best 40 points on 10-of-14 shooting. The 40 points is the second-most in an SAA Tournament game. Caleb Johnson of Berry dropped 45 in the title game last season.
-Recording a career-best eight made 3-pointers, the sophomore finished 8-of-11 from downtown.
-Cam Caldwell added nine points and seven rebounds, while Jordan Warlick scored eight.
BERRY KEY STATISTICS
-Elijah Hirsh scored 24 points and corralled 11 rebounds to lead the Vikings, who finish the season 19-7.
The Tigers will next battle for the Championship of the SAA Tournament Sunday at 3 p.m. ET as they play Centre, who defeated Oglethorpe in the other semifinal game, 75-72.